Friday, November 30, 2007

We Hardly Knew Ye: Evel Knievel

Evel Knievel, 1938-2007.


Hello Quatchi!

I'm not big on the Winter Olympics, unless Tonya Harding or Chazz Michael Michaels are involved. However, the 2010 games in Vancouver just unveiled its Meomi-designed mascots: Miga (a sort of orca-bear), Sumi (a thunderbird) and Quatchi (Bigfoot!).

Technically Quatchi's a Sasquatch, the Native American/First Nations term for Bigfoot, though the name "Squatch" was already taken. In any case, Quatchi is yet another reason to love Vancouver. Here's video.

Obviously I like him better than that stupid panda below.

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Postage Stamp of the Week: Vince Lombardi

Until the Mike Holmgren gets his own commemorative stamp, here's one paying tribute to legendary Green Bay Packer coach Vince Lombardi.

"Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing," he once famously said. Sounds impressive, but what if he said the exact opposite? "Winning isn't the only thing; it's everything." Either way, the message is the same: "Don't lose."

Trivia: The Ramones/Roger Corman cult classic Rock 'n' Roll High School was set at the fictional Vince Lombardi High, which exploded at film's end.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Am Spokane (And So Can You!)

Last weekend Eliza and I made the longest trip I've ever taken without leaving the state. Eliza's never been to Spokane, and I've only visited once before, wandering around the old Expo '74 fairgrounds one afternoon in 1999. We found marmots, a goat, an elephant, and Bigfoot.

Sunday began with breakfast at the Big Foot Pub & Eatery, and later we dropped by the Lil' Bigfoot tavern. In between we visited Spokane Community College, where the athletic teams are nicknamed Bigfoot, the student paper is the Sasquatch Times (no link), and there's a big foot-shaped concrete bench outside the student union. Across town, the Spokane Falls Community College bookstore has lots of "Bigfoot" merch, much of it bearing this logo. (For more Bigfoot-in-Spokane pix, check out my updated In Search of Bigfoot page.)

Spokanistan supposedly has scads of marmots in downtown's Riverside Park--site of the '74 World's Fair--but the only ones we saw were in this ridiculous marmot mural painted underneath an ancient railroad bridge. We explored the park, but the Sky Ride was hardly worth the $7 ticket, and I was disappointed we couldn't go up in the clock tower. We were more impressed by the nearby Parkade, as photographed by Eliza.

Seattle may have its Space Needle from the '62 World's Fair, but our favorite Expo '74 remnant is the interactive Garbage Goat, a high-powered vacuum that sucks trash through the mouth of this metal goat sculpture. After pushing the button (seen to next to the goat in the picture above), there's about 25 seconds of suction to "feed" the goat garbage. I'd do more housework if we had one at home.

We ate quite a lot ourselves, at Dolly's diner, Frank's Diner and the Steamplant Grill. Saturday night we drank beer, rocked the jukebox and played pull-tabs at downtown's comfortably seedy Lamp Post tavern. We also hit nearly every Inland Empire thrift store, where Eliza scored lots of kitchen gear and I scored a '70s Mariners batting helmet, Nerf Ping Pong, Parchesi, a copy of Danny and the Dinosaur, and VHS tapes of Sweatin' to the Oldies and a Yakov Smirnoff show. But the coolest store is White Elephant, a cluttered old Chubby & Tubby-like business that sells loads of weird toys and games (Blow Soccer!?), guns 'n' ammo 'n' fishing 'n' camping gear, and boxfuls of discount Expo '74 trinkets. I picked up a program, a map, and an ashtray, all for a mere $2.10.

Oh, and we stayed at the lovely Montvale Hotel.

On the list for our next visit--perhaps in another couple years--are Zip's, the city drive, the giant milk bottle, and, depending on the time of year, the Chiefs or Indians.

We are Spokane. And so can you.

Steve's Autographs #5: Daniel Clowes

Belatedly honoring Daniel Clowes's appearance on last Sunday's Simpsons, here's his autograph on the back of my Urge Overkill Supersonic Storybook CD booklet. (I already described that encounter here.) Far cooler than an autograph though was getting to interview him a few years later.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Postage Stamp of the Week: Green Bay Packers

Until the Seahawks get their own commemorative stamp, here's one paying tribute to the legendary Green Bay Packers.

There's lots to love about the Packers--their history, their small-town home, their non-profit status, their kickass uniforms, Brett Favre--read this.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Hot Turkey Action

A couple years ago when Eliza and I made T'giving dinner, my big contribution was making a powdered-sugar turkey stencil for Eliza's gingerbread cake. Here's how it turned out, the crowing touch being the googley eyeball. Here's me holding the pan.

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Postage Stamp of the Week: Squirrel

Here's another Croatian stamp commemorating another ho-hum critter, the lowly squirrel. Says here, "there is a scarcity of squirrels to be found in nature. The reason lies in the great number of natural enemies of the squirrel, the most dangerous among them being the pine marten. The squirrel is a very tidy animal and this makes it suitable even for keeping it at home as a pet."

Rock on.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Postage Stamp of the Week: Donkey

Last summer Eliza and I accompanied my dad and a bunch of other Mandiches on a cruise from Athens to Venice, stopping along the way in Montenegro and Croatia, bringing my countries-I've-visited count to 21. I love Croatia -- it's where my grandfather came from, and it's where we ate lots of pizza and pasta and seafood and strolled around the cool old towns of Dubrovnik, Korcula, Hvar and Mali Losinj. We swam among the little fishes in the Adriatic and shopped at Konzum for such products as Chipsy and Barpy!. I enjoyed lotsa Croatian beer, including my favorite, Ozujsko, as well as Pivo Lasko and Karlovacko (served locally at Smith). We also drank Croatia's ubiquitous donkey wine, whose mascot resembles the critter on this Croatian donkey stamp.

Here are all of Croatia's stamps, 1991-present.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Now I've Seen Everything #1: Bam Bam Bhole



Saturday, November 03, 2007

You've Stayed Classy, San Diego

Discovered by the Germans in 1904, they named it San Diego, which of course in German means a whale's vagina.

I first visited San Diego as a six-year-old during Ron Burgundy's reign, on a family vacation in 1976. Mostly I remember SeaWorld's bicentennial show ("Shamu, the Yankee Doodle Whale"), and a road trip to Ensenada, where I was perplexed to see my uncle eat frog legs. After brief visits in 1987 and 1992 (including my first Padres game at Jack Murphy Stadium and an Alex Chilton/Robyn Hitchcock show at the Belly Up), I lived there for most of 1993.

I stayed with my sister and her then-husband in Hillcrest, and each day I rode my bike through Balboa Park (and past the famous zoo) to my job at a shitty downtown Kinko's. I went to many more Padres games, ate lots of Roberto’s, took the trolley to Tijuana and bought my music at Off the Record. At the time I started getting into both pinball (I spent my daily lunch hour playing Star Wars, Twilight Zone and the Addams Family) and alternative comics (the Comic-Con, where I met Matt Groening, was super-cool).

This was also the peak of my live-music fandom. San Diego was vying to become the "next Seattle," and I went to lots of local shows. An old journal shows that I saw, among other bands, Rocket from the Crypt, Drive Like Jehu, Three Mile Pilot, Fluf, Truman's Water and Crash Worship. None of 'em particularly knocked me out, though Crash Worship's fiery, insano-orgy performance was wild, messy, memorable fun. Otherwise, at the Casbah's old venue I saw 7-Year Bitch, Doo Rag, Girl Trouble, Love Battery, the Lunachicks, the Red Aunts, Sebadoh, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, Treepeople, Tsunami and Urge Overkill; at SOMA's old digs I saw Come, Dinosaur Jr., Fugazi, Gumball and Superchunk; in various other spots I saw Belly, Iggy Pop, Velocity Girl, Paul Westerberg and X. I crammed a lot into nine months.

Every few years since '93 I've gone back for quick visits, riding the Big Dipper at Belmont Park, cheering on the Pads at their awesome new Petco Park, seeing the Stones at the Sports Arena and gawking at Model Railroad Museum. I've also patronized the late Sunset Bowl, Rudford’s, Bronx Pizza, City Deli and the Turf Supper Club.

I visited yet again last weekend, as Eliza and I flew down for my sister's wedding (congrats, Linda and Rudolf!). We ate fish tacos at Rubio’s, posed for pix in the MOPA photo booth, and noticed that San Diego has its own scenic drive (next time we'll have to explore the 59-mile route and see how it stacks up against Seattle's).

Anyway, after Seattle and Portland (where I lived for nearly five years), I consider San Diego my "third city." It's far from "America's Finest City" as it purports itself to be, but because of my long-running history and relative familiarity with the place, I have a special fondness for it.

Finally, what's with the jets? One of my favorite things about San Diego is the way incoming flights scream dangerously low over the city on their final approach to Lindbergh Field. When flying into town, I recommend a window seat on the plane's right side.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Postage Stamp of the Week: Pistol-Packing Panda

My dad brought home an assortment of stamps from his recent trip to China, one among them featured this panda shooting a gun. Turns out that "Jingjing" is one of five mascots representing the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. I didn't know that firearms was an Olympic event.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Crossword Report: October '07

Hey, I'm staging a small, late-year rally, having solved more crosswords in October than in any month since April... Sh-sh-sh-sha!

Crosswords in Pop Culture:

I love crosswords and I love Converse All-Stars, but the two don't quite go together -- see above. I'll stick with classic black Chucks, thanks.

King of the Hill (September 25, 2005).
In the episode "Bystand Me," Peggy lands a gig writing a household hints column for the Arlen Bystander, though she seems clueless about such matters. Minh, however, supplies Peggy with the hints she needs to keep her ruse afloat, in exchange for advance solutions to the Bystander's syndicated New York Times crossword... Apparently the paper runs two daily crosswords, because in an earlier episode (mentioned in February's Crossword Report), Hank's name appears in the locally produced puzzle.

Crossword Report: January '07
Crossword Report: February '07
Crossword Report: March '07
Crossword Report: April '07
Crossword Report: May '07
Crossword Report: June '07
Crossword Report: July '07
Crossword Report: August '07
Crossword Report: September '07
Total crosswords solved in October 2007: 50
Total crosswords solved in 2007: 508
On pace to solve in 2007: 610